The Roosevelt School District, a second year partner with the AZ SciTech Festival, is moving full STEAM ahead toward its plans for “steam–ification” of the district in response to the obvious need to get minority and underserved communities up to speed in the STEM/STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math) fields.
According to a recent US News & World Report, “…underserved or struggling school districts are at risk of being left behind, a scenario that has far-reaching economic consequences for the United States…Unless it ramps up STEM education for all students — including kids who struggle to obtain it now — the U.S., once dominant, will fall further behind the world in the fast-growing global technological economy.”
The Roosevelt School District took this information to heart and decided to do something about it. The District recently held its STEAM Festival on Saturday, March 5th at the Roosevelt Center of Sustainability (RCoS) on the campus of Dr. George B. Brooks Community School.
The RCoS was newly developed into a community health, wellness, and education initiative of the Roosevelt School District to promote community empowerment. The Center is home to a 13,000 sq. ft. educational greenhouse, pollinator gardens, interactive sustainability exhibits, innovative aquariums with live data feeds to classrooms, and a theater where live programming is delivered from the state-of-the-art Wellness Center kitchen at 10th St. and Baseline Rd.
So what did the nearly 1,000 visitors, including students, parents and community members, find at the Festival this past weekend?
In addition to the fantastic facility itself, the arts and academics within the district were highlighted, along with an incredible book fair, and live dance and music performances from many of the schools.
The crowds received tours of the greenhouse, learned about aquaponics techniques, enjoyed native wildlife demonstrations, saw an active microgreens grower, witnessed a butterfly habitat garden, experienced interactive Science Museum exhibits, went on farm and orchard tours, saw technology demonstrations and art exhibitions.
Cassandra Kellaris, Science Resource Specialist for the Roosevelt School District, finds it hard to hide her enthusiasm and commitment to bringing everything possible in STEAM to the students of the District. Ask Kellaris about stories or anecdotes she wants to share about the RCoS and she’ll tell you about compost. Yes, compost! Apparently, that is one of the coolest things students want to learn about at the RCos.
When the students come into the Center, the first thing you hear is a resounding and collective “WOW”! After all, 13,000 sq. ft. to a child is fairly spectacular; well, even to an adult that is a lot of space to take in all at once.
Kellaris adds “the students’ sense of wonder when entering the facility is thrilling. Have you ever seen kids get this excited about the scientific explanation of compost?” asks Kellaris rhetorically. “Before long they want to smell it, see it and feel the different textures. And this is what gets the kids hooked on science.”
Kellaris went on to explain how important it is to get the students interested in science in the elementary grades. “By the 8th grade, the kids have already been pigeonholed. It is important to let the students experience problem solving using science; let them interact with the environment that is all around them.”
- Yeila, an 8th grader at C.O. Greenfield, is the district’s first Chief Science Officer through
AZSciTech, with plans to expand the district’s involvement in the Chief Science Officer
program in the 2016-17 school year.
- Next Fall, all 4th graders will participate in an Arizona Project WET Water Festival. AZ Project
WET will provide professional development around environmental science and water
conservation to the 4th grade teachers.
- Two of the District’s schools will be participating in a collaborative project between the ASU
Walton Sustainability Solutions Initiative and the City of Phoenix to educate students about
waste reduction. These schools will conduct their own projects to have a positive impact on
- The District’s gifted students have been involved in the Future Cities project and will be
showcasing their projects.
From the Roosevelt STEAM Festival to all STEAM activities in the classrooms and the unwavering District support, clearly Roosevelt believes that their actions can and will ignite a lifetime interest in some aspect of STEAM… and when underserved kids are given the opportunity, just imagine how much more innovation can happen.